A remarkable success” Harry Bramma, who was Organist at the time,describing Harrisons’ restoration work on the renowned Lewis organ of Southwark Cathedral, which included correction of the pitch and reinstatement of the original wind-pressures.In spite of their complexity, pipe organs can carry on for years without giving any trouble. Quite a small organ may have 1,000 pipes; a large organ 5,000 or more. Like any other piece of machinery, they need proper maintenance and adjustment to keep them in good working order.
As the organ gets older, it may start to get moody. Notes sound when they shouldn’t, or don’t sound when they should. Stops go silent. Bellows leak,keys rattle, components wear out. A thick layer of dirt settles in the moving parts, and clogs the pipes so that the sound gradually loses its freshness.
Leather may crack; the wood may twist so that sliders will not slide, or shrink so that air escapes where it shouldn’t. Mice, moth or woodworm may cause problems; dampness or water from a leaking roof may cause damage. After two or three decades, a simple cleaning and overhaul may be enough. But the time will eventually come when the entire instrument has to be taken apart for major restoration.
In country churches, this will probably be after 100 years or so. In a busy church, it may be needed sooner. But organs don’t suddenly crash out. They age gracefully, and a good instrument till give many more decades of reliable service if well restored.
Harrisons’ historic restorations are carefully researched and any changes are meticulously executed.
The firm’s advice on organ restoration is widely respected. Notable examples of our historic restoration work include the 1922-32 Willis organ of Westminster Cathedral, the 1897 Lewis organ of Southwark Cathedral, and the 1882 Willis organ of Reading Town Hall.
We are also specialists in the unusual and complex art of pneumatic restoration as at the Caird Hall, Dundee (H&H 1923), the Usher Hall Edinburgh (Norman & Beard 1914) and St Bartholomew’s Church Armley (Schulze 1869/Binns 1905).
We restore and rebuild organs of all sizes and styles, whether built by ourselves or by others.